The Strange One

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Advertised as 'the first picture filmed entirely by a cast and technicians from The Actors' Studio, New York': in 1957, this was quite a selling point, because the screen was under invasion by young, brilliant Method actors, and Elia Kazan, co-founder of the Studio, was the prestigious movie and play director. Calder Willingham's novel (End As a Man), about a sadistic cadet in a Southern military academy, certainly went against the Hollywood grain. Most movie versions of military life - Ford's The Long Gray Line is a fair example - endorsed the system, but Willingham, who had suffered under a similar regime, dissented: discipline and honour were dehumanising, and bred only bullying. Garfein, Kazan's assistant, wasn't much of a director, and some of the actors appear almost incapacitated with mannerisms. Gazzara, however, is sensational, playing the malevolent Jocko De Paris with a subtlety honed by Studio stage performances. Reptilian, glowering with banked-down hatred - even his outfit of military cap, Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sock suspenders, cigarette holder and swagger stick, communicates a sardonic androgyny that couldn't have done much for the military peace of mind. He is, in short, Iago. Fellow cadets Peppard and Hingle don't stand a chance against his cunning.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jack Garfein
Screenwriter: Calder Willingham
Cast: Ben Gazzara
George Peppard
Pat Hingle
Mark Richman
Geoffrey Horne
James Olson
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